CUSTOMER Q&A

"PDX has truly been a most dependable and trusted technology partner for Giant Eagle pharmacy for nearly 20 years."

Jim Tsipakis

Senior Vice President of Pharmacy | Giant Eagle

You accepted this position as Senior Vice President of Pharmacy for Giant Eagle last October. Now that you have had a few months to establish your working relationships and strategy, would you mind sharing your initial thoughts?

As we all know, the foundation for establishing a strong loyal customer base is exceptional service and attention to the details that are important to each customer. This commitment, or “brand promise”, starts and ends with our team members. Over the past few months I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most talented and enthusiastic team members in this industry. We will continue to grow our business through the strength of our talented team members and our steadfast commitment to our customers and patients.

Your penchant for detail and understanding of pharmacy operations, both financial and strategic, are well documented…especially your knowledge of managed care operations, payer negotiations and industry challenges, including reimbursement pressures and DIR fees. How will those strengths fit into your overall roadmap for your pharmacy business?

The healthcare landscape, including pharmacy, has experienced a dramatic shift over the past few years. Understanding the complex set of metrics and levers that have driven, and continue to drive, that shift is critical. For example, healthcare costs continue to rise, and pharmacy reimbursements are rapidly declining year over year. Provider networks are increasingly becoming more narrow and restrictive and DIR Fees from preferred network drug plans offered by insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are contributing to financial hardships for many pharmacies. These fees are the basis for network participation, the mechanism for reimbursement reconciliations and the mechanism for risk or reward for compliance or non‐compliance with quality metrics set by each PBM. All this to say that it is extremely important to stay on top of the contracts negotiated and the metrics that define them.

Where do you see your pharmacy operations going as it pertains to these “patient outcomes” and their corresponding reimbursements?

Our top priority is, and always will be, to free up our pharmacists to truly “care” for our patients…to educate, counsel and practice at the highest end of their credentials. Our central fill operations currently pull 35% of the filling and administrative tasks out of our stores. Our goal is to continue toward 50%. Our motto, “Giant Eagle Cares”, is not just a sound bite, but rather a “promise”. Our customers and patients are our priority, and whatever operations platform it takes to reach them is what we will be focused on. We need to use technology to free up repetitive tasks. Did you know that a pharmacist is the only professional I know of who still takes payment from the customer? We can fix that with technology and innovation.

Speaking of technology, how have you found the PDX technology platform and their support?

Our PDX software is a key element to our success. Something we count on each day. Our store pharmacies run efficiently because of the software and our central fill facility fills nearly 30,000 prescriptions each day using distinct PDX software that automatically interfaces with our stores and our central fill facility to manage data and inventory. PDX has truly been a most dependable and trusted technology partner for Giant Eagle pharmacy for nearly 20 years.

Tell us a little about yourself. How do you start and end your day?

I start each morning with a very large cup of coffee, printed version of the Wall Street Journal and whenever possible making breakfast for my 3 children (Ages 4, 5 and 13). Having younger children, they have come to expect daddy making “Chocolate Chip Mickey Mouse pancakes” and bacon which is always the highlight of my morning. I end my day watching the evening news or cooking shows, that were previously DVR’d, with my wife Bessie.

I see that you graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston with honors and dual minors. Did you have any time left to root for the Red Sox or Celtics?

Of course! Growing up in Boston with such a rich history and deeply rooted sports scene, it is impossible to not grow up a huge fan of the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and the Patriots. The best sports highlight for me and my family was watching the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs (my wife is from Chicago) finally end their respective curses and win a World Series.

What are your favorite pastimes?

Things I really enjoy include spending time with my family, cooking, traveling, fishing, shooting trap and reading.